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Re: [TalkAntietam] Spinning Wheels on South Mountain

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  • richard@rcroker.com
    It looks like I might be doing a radio tour promoting my book signing at Antietam in the next couple of months and had hoped that I could use that
    Message 1 of 6 , Apr 30, 2004
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      It looks like I might be doing a "radio tour" promoting my book signing at
      Antietam in the next couple of months and had hoped that I could use that
      opportunity to pile on on the South Mountain issue (and maybe do some good).
      But it appears to be so complicated that I wouldn't have time to say any
      more than "build us a park."

      If this happens, I may want to speak with one or two of you beforehand, just
      to get a better feel for what's going on.

      I know Antietam has made some great progress lately, but still needs some
      help. Maybe I should just stick to that.

      Richard
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Rawlings, Kevin" <kevin.rawlings@...>
      To: <TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Friday, April 30, 2004 2:44 PM
      Subject: RE: [TalkAntietam] Spinning Wheels on South Mountain


      > Tim,
      >
      > I would be interested in hearing what your views and/or vision for the
      best
      > way to preserve the South Mountain battlefields above and beyond what I
      have
      > looked at from the various sites you have been kind enough to include. If
      > you want to take this to private e-mail that is fine also. I am truly
      > interested in what you have to say and your philosophy of what it is going
      > to take. At the time I left CMHL they wanted to get away from the
      emphasis
      > the Civil War as the reason we formed CMHL and concentrate on other things
      > like Tea Shops and backing various sundry candidates in Middletown.
      >
      > Kevin
      >
      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: tjrhys62 [mailto:tjreesecg@...]
      > Sent: Friday, April 30, 2004 1:11 PM
      > To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: [TalkAntietam] Spinning Wheels on South Mountain
      >
      >
      > Continuing South Mountain thread of recent days, anyone wishing to
      > delve further into preservation status should have a look at today's
      > posting on The Civil War Bookshelf at http://cwbn.blogspot.com/. It
      > pays to research and think these things out before assuming that
      > progress is being made.
      >
      > Tim
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
    • tjrhys62
      Hi Kevin, No need to go private. Everyone has a stake in this. You too, Richard. First let s get our terms straight. South Mountain means Turner s and Fox s
      Message 2 of 6 , Apr 30, 2004
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        Hi Kevin,

        No need to go private. Everyone has a stake in this. You too,
        Richard.

        First let's get our terms straight. "South Mountain" means Turner's
        and Fox's gaps exclusively. Crampton's Gap was a separate ball game,
        so said Lee and McClellan. South Mountain is the truly endangered
        battlefield as you know so well.

        The time for philosophy has unfortunately long since passed. Now
        it's a matter of setting aside what remains not already spoken for.
        As Dimitri has underscored time and again, "state battlefields"
        and "battlefield parks" cannot exist unless the land is brought into
        the public domain. That accomplished, a public mandate for access
        and amenities must be charted and funded, staffing hired and
        assigned, and a viable management plan enacted.

        H.B. 1183, by which SMSB was created (sort of), excludes everything
        traditionally associated with the "battlefield park" model laid down
        by the NPS, i.e., no visitors center, no site historian, nothing
        concrete reflective of a real public battlefield. The bill's wording
        makes this amply clear. By that measure H.B. 1183 is inherently
        flawed prior to passage, a virtual battlefield.

        So where to from here? Were I a pessimist I'd say it's far too late.
        But a few unlikely steps would go a long way toward the real thing:

        1) CMHL must deed all its current holdings to the State of Maryland,
        to be folded into existing mountain purview. It's preposterous for
        any preservation group to claim property management in perpetuity.
        The "White House" property on the National Pike would be of no use
        unless it fell contiguous to current state property. CMHL can either
        run tea rooms and act as a local PAC or it can focus on its
        incipient battlefield raison d'etre. It's too small, too incompetent
        to do both.

        2) The current Program Open Space effort to acquire easements should
        be abandoned. This may work well for keeping ag land under crop, but
        it does nothing for cultural sites. The money has all but dried up
        anyway due to Gov. Erlich's austerity program. Lean times, lean
        minds.

        3) South Mountain State Battlefield, such as it is, HQed at
        Washington Monument State Park, should be frozen in place, audited
        for to-date expenditure (no more repro cannons, office
        embellishments, or other wasteful personal toys), reviewed for
        viable management plan, and re-defined according to historical
        documentation. Though seemingly self-serving, my next book (only 70
        pages) lays out the latter in excruciating detail.

        4) Existing and potentially acquired state lands must be re-
        evaluated as being either forestry or battlefield land determined by
        accessibility, safety, and security. If suitable contiguous public
        lands cannot be practically united into a developable battlefield
        entity, suited to people walking it, then you have no state
        battlefield. Pipe dreams won't work.

        5) No state park ranger should hold a seat on the CMHL board of
        directors, a clear conflict of interest. Crackpot hobbyists should
        not be allowed to act as state-sponsored historical consultants.
        This sounds harsh, but it's the blunt truth. Park rangers and
        hobbyists are virtual historians by self-proclamation.

        6) Policy must be hammered out with Appalachian Trail Conference to
        determine what can and cannot be done contiguous to their holdings.
        They were there first circa 1930s. Divergent authorities MUST
        confer.

        7) A panel of legitimate, specialized campaign historians should be
        established as state consultants. Only they can accurately
        determine, without personal bias, where the battlefield lies, the
        descending order of importance assigned to each segment, and how
        best to publicly access each if indeed they be public lands.

        7) Last but hardly least (you may not like this one), if it is
        determined that insufficient land, fiscal commitment, and/or
        planning resources do not exist to pursue the SMSB concept, then it
        should be abandoned. End of story.

        In counterpoint I would add that many, in addition to myself, have
        long wondered why a) a 1998 initiative started for the Crampton's
        Gap battlefield was diverted to create an ersatz SMSB, b) why staff
        and funding for Gathland State Park didn't re-materialize after the
        last state budget crunch, and c) why CMHL has proclaimed long and
        loudly that "we're not interested in Crampton's Gap." My wife Jan
        served on the CMHL board when these words were uttered, she
        resigning thereafter.

        I would point out that the only battlefield land lying within a
        state park on South Mountain lies at Crampton's Gap. It's time to
        get the foxes out of the hen house, then we can see if anything can
        be salvaged. It isn't much I'm afraid, but it's all we've got after
        years of intrigue, incompetence, and pseudo-intellectual looting.

        For years people like me have tried it their way, careful not to
        tread on sensitive egos or pompous allegations of expertise. No more
        Mr. Nice Guy! What's your take on all this, Kevin? How about the
        rest of you? Don't leave me out here alone for another year. Sorry
        to be so long-winded. These are complex issues, made more so by
        divergent motives.

        Tim

        --- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "Rawlings, Kevin"
        <kevin.rawlings@s...> wrote:
        > Tim,
        >
        > I would be interested in hearing what your views and/or vision for
        the best
        > way to preserve the South Mountain battlefields above and beyond
        what I have
        > looked at from the various sites you have been kind enough to
        include. If
        > you want to take this to private e-mail that is fine also. I am
        truly
        > interested in what you have to say and your philosophy of what it
        is going
        > to take. At the time I left CMHL they wanted to get away from the
        emphasis
        > the Civil War as the reason we formed CMHL and concentrate on
        other things
        > like Tea Shops and backing various sundry candidates in Middletown.
        >
        > Kevin
        >
        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: tjrhys62 [mailto:tjreesecg@e...]
        > Sent: Friday, April 30, 2004 1:11 PM
        > To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: [TalkAntietam] Spinning Wheels on South Mountain
        >
        >
        > Continuing South Mountain thread of recent days, anyone wishing to
        > delve further into preservation status should have a look at
        today's
        > posting on The Civil War Bookshelf at http://cwbn.blogspot.com/.
        It
        > pays to research and think these things out before assuming that
        > progress is being made.
        >
        > Tim
        >
        >
        >
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      • Rawlings, Kevin
        Tim, Hope you have not given up on me. I have been running here at work the last several days and have not had time to respond like I wanted. The White House
        Message 3 of 6 , May 5, 2004
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          Tim,

          Hope you have not given up on me. I have been running here at work the last
          several days and have not had time to respond like I wanted.

          The "White House" property is no longer owned by CMHL, but is owned by a
          person who does reside on the current BOD. Since the Iron Brigade site is
          now owned by the State (CMHL donated it to the State), I would opine that
          the property is contiguous. I believe he joined the board after his purchase
          of the property. The owners are required to open the house for tours one
          weekend out of the year for walk throughs by the public per Maryland
          Historic easements or requirements ( I can't think of the entity on the tip
          of my tongue just now). Not that this is currently happening for all I know.
          The guy that bought it is a little strange.

          I agree with your statement about Al having a conflict of interest sitting
          on CMHL's board and brought that up when I rejoined the board. I was
          promptly told by Bill Wilson I was a troublemaker and my opinion was of no
          account as the rest of the board saw no conflict. As far as "crackpot
          hobbyist" I take it you refer to George B. or Steve S.? If you meant George,
          I don't know if I would go so far as calling him a crackpot, but he did
          manage to damage his creditability, especially with the State, by having the
          media tantrum he had. It did not help that Bill Wilson and his minions
          helped to undermine George at the same time and eventually knifed him in the
          back. The tea shop owner at the Lamar House is a good friend of Bill's and
          he was very instrumental in overriding our opposition to it. Because of our
          opposition to the tea shop, Bill managed to convene illegally a special
          board meeting and removed George from the organization. Following that
          meeting several of us were told we were next if continued to oppose Bill's
          agenda as Executive Director. One of the items Bill pushed long and hard on
          was to have the Executive Director's position to have a BOD vote. Currently
          he and his wife Molly both sit on the Board.

          Now I was on the BOD when you say the CMHL said it was not interested in
          Crampton's Gap. What I remember being discussed was the several groups that
          were involved in Crampton's Gap/Gathland, including Paul Gilligan's new
          group. We agreed we would only serve to muddy the waters by adding another
          group to the mix and decided to stay out of any involvement with Crampton's
          Gap/Gathland. We figured we had all we could do to just take care of Fox's
          and Turner's Gaps and our addition to Crampton's Gap/Gathland would involve
          too many cooks' hands in the soup. We had also gotten fed up with Paul's "I
          want to be involved with you/I don't want to be involved with you" stances
          on any wind direction that happen to be blowing any given day. There was
          already group infrastructures for Crampton's Gap/Gathland/Burkettsville
          where there was none at the other gaps. That is the way I remember it unless
          there were some things said afterwards that I was not privy to. It was not
          because we were uninterested in Crampton's Gap.

          My opinion of Greenbriar Lake being associated with the budget of the SMSB
          is preposterous and should be its own entitiy. Unfortunately, the turf
          politics from within the State Parks will not allow that separation and thus
          lake tourism requiring picnic tables and such will take precedent over
          historic and battlefield needs and the budget for SMSB will continue to
          starve, unless I am off the mark.

          I don't know what the score is or what is needed any longer. I threw up my
          hands in fustration with the turn of events at CMHL and kept to myself for
          the last several years. But I don't like what I see happening on South
          Mountain and have slowly begun to get back involved. But as of this writing,
          I am not sure with whom or what group. I just know I cannot sit on the
          sideline and tsk-tsk all that is wrong or incompetent that I see. I am
          involved with George and a new group at this time but I am not even sure
          what we are working at is doable or right. I am not even sure another group
          is the answer. My feeling of "I have done my time in the trenches, let
          someone else carry the burden awhile" on top of working on another book,
          just does not leave enough time in the day or the week.

          On a side note, did Joe Hooker spend some time recuperating in Middletown
          after Antietam? If he did, do you know where he stayed? I believe Hayes
          stayed at the Rudy House (504 Main Street?).

          Good seeing you and Jan the other night in Boonsboro. The book you have
          coming out on the Maryland Campaign, is that the 70 page book you are
          talking about or is it a longer book?

          All the best,
          Kevin
        • tjrhys62
          Kevin, Ah, power democracy. You gotta love it. Thanks for the update on CMHL holdings or lack thereof. The White House property, now being out of CMHL
          Message 4 of 6 , May 5, 2004
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            Kevin,

            Ah, power democracy. You gotta love it. Thanks for the update on
            CMHL holdings or lack thereof.

            The "White House" property, now being out of CMHL ownership as you
            say, remains private whether or not it falls contiguous to state
            land. By "Iron Brigade site" I take it you mean the ground on the
            high side of the pike, that traversed solely by the 6th & 7th
            Wisconsin. This too is situated far from any state land to which it
            could be attached in any SMSB context. In between lie fee-simple
            sale lots. See what I mean? If the current owner of the WH property
            were to deed it to the state, then perhaps a narrow public ingress
            might be established, accessible from the WH.

            Easements would have no effect, they being essentially public money
            dolled out to private property owners to keep it private. No state
            battlefield here. Half-measures, such as loosely agreed present-
            owner covenants to traverse, are not long-term binding. And as you
            observe, "strange guys" are not to be depended upon when hairs get
            split. These wholly private lands, CMHL owned or otherwise, cannot
            be construed as a portion of SMSB unless deeded into public domain.

            Regarding Ranger Al Preston, in recent years I've caught him in so
            many lies I resigned from work at Gathland in 2002 and cut off all
            communication. In the meantime he spews misinformation abroad about
            the battlefield, me, and Burkittsville in his dubious capacity as
            titular head of SMSB. Within the past month two such instances have
            come to my attention. Nothing like official clout to lend
            credibility to untruth.

            I think you've learned the hard way that anyone using preservation
            logic and common sense will inevitably fall afoul of the anointed in
            DNR and CMHL. Strange bedfellows. Both have conflicting agendas
            irrespective of what they tout publicly. Al just wants to play with
            his cannon (excuse the expression) on as much battlefield land as he
            can access, and Bill Wilson desperately wants to be Czar. I'm
            reliably informed that Wilson showed up uninvited at the autumn
            meeting of the Friends at Gathland, quickly got into a shouting
            match with a state rep from Annapolis, then vigorously shoved her to
            the floor. Yep, a woman. Nice guy.

            George isn't the crackpot hobbyist I had in mind, but he'll do. Over
            the years George proved to me in spades that he too had an agenda. I
            omit details herein. At an SMSB hearing George angrily asserted that
            it was he who had started the initiative for SMSB. In reply Park
            Manager Dan Speddon said that it was a shame that the two guys who
            really did start it-¬óBill van Gilder and myself-¬ówere no longer
            involved. We both backed away when our initiative for Crampton's Gap
            was pirated for creation of SMSB. Bill washed his hands of the whole
            thing in disgust.

            In my personal opinion George needs a shrink, though he has my
            sympathy for a Wilson knife job comparable to your own. It was
            George and his disciples who diverted state attention/funding from
            Crampton's many years ago. I pulled his knife from my back and kept
            going. Then Bill put one in his. Do I detect a pattern here? Sounds
            like a bag of weasels to me. Meanwhile lands formerly of little or
            no interest as house sites have leaped in value to the point where
            preservationists would have to pay out developers' prices tantamount
            to extortion. In this respect it's now too late for purchase,
            notably by a state government well in the hole.

            There was never more than one group infrastructure marginally
            concerned (purportedly) with CG, that being Paul Gilligan's jumped
            up SM Heritage Society, basically a band wagon without wheels.
            George had maintained that CG needed no attention because
            surrounding land was all in ag easement. It wasn't and never had
            been. Paul really wasn't interested either, being far more eager for
            public office and local land control. His favorite expression
            is "capture properties," which he hasn't a clue what to do with
            after capture--including his own dilapidated farm. Paul shot himself
            in the foot so many times in recent years he can scarcely walk now.
            The Mid-Maryland Land Trust showed him the door (like George with
            CMHL) and the Heritage Society is poised to do the same now that his
            mandatory 12-year board seat has expired. Gilligan's island is
            sinking fast. Talks to himself a lot. He and CMHL won't have to do
            battle anymore. Nothing left to fight over anyway. They cancelled
            each other out.

            What all this adds up to is nearly two decades of political
            intrigue, behind-the-scenes maneuvering, and internecine warfare as
            egos angled for supremacy. Forget the who-struck-John of it. Really
            doesn't matter anymore who's to blame. The end result is the same:
            Nothing permanent.

            It should now be amply clear what H.B. 1183 was all about. It was,
            and remains, a bureaucratic shell game crafted to funnel additional
            funds into SM Recreation Area coffers for unrelated uses such as
            Greenbrier Lake diversions you cited. Oh, and Al got a repro cannon,
            limber, implements, new weapons and uniforms to wear, framed CW
            prints for his office, and a new patrol vehicle out of the bargain.
            Remind me sometime to fill you in on Al's purchase of an original
            Mississippi Rifle using his state credit card to its limit as a down
            payment. The state yanked his card when they found out. Curiouser
            and curiouser. Al(ice) in wonderland.

            Speddon has been bellyaching about his budget for years. SMSB was
            the answer to his prayers. While I was working at Gathland even his
            rangers and other DNR personnel were vocal about misuse of funds--
            out of Dan's earshot of course. Where I come from this is called
            malfeasance, unlawful, and arrogantly hypocritical to public
            mandate. In the early stages of SMSB consideration Delegate Sue
            Hecht said it best: "DNR is a law unto itself."

            Don't feel bad if you don't know the score. No one else does either.
            Truth is private groups can have no impact, because they were and
            are an integral part of the problem from the start. It all boils
            down to a simple mantra. If it isn't publicly owned, don't call it a
            public battlefield. Someone will call you on it.

            You, George and whoever can form another group if you like. But
            you'll run into the same old wall of lies, hubris, and unmitigated
            spin. True enough; you've done your bit insofar as the powers that
            be would allow. It will probably take class action public interest
            lawsuits to put cake under the SMSB icing. But neither of us has the
            time or bucks to spend the next five years in court. Barring that,
            public demand for state comptroller's audit of SMSB might do the
            trick.

            For what it's worth, I've learned to join nothing, work
            independently, and to get as much documented information out to the
            public as possible so well-informed decisions can be made on a far
            broader plane. The next book (the 70-pager out next month) lays down
            the law according to Lee and Mac concerning the Md. Campaign.
            Thereafter if government cranks want to continue their backroom
            games, they will do so with everybody else knowing the score and
            looking on with jaundiced eye. Got fungus? Shine a harsh light on
            it. Eventually it will wither and die. But by then it will be far
            too late for the battlefield. Manipulators win; public loses, again.

            In reply to your question, Joe Hooker was taken to the Pry House
            (Mac's HQ) with his painful foot wound and treated their for awhile,
            somewhere upstairs. His disposition thereafter eludes memory, but
            I've never read anything about his treatment in Middletown. You are
            spot on about RB Hayes at the Rudy House. His wife Lucy came over
            from Ohio to look after him personally, distrustful of army medics.
            Smart lady. Maybe she should have been the 19th president.

            Good to see you too. Love the beard. Very extinguished, sorry
            distinguished. Juuust kidding. Hang in there, by your finger nails
            if necessary. Yours is a purer faith.

            Tim

            --- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "Rawlings, Kevin"
            <kevin.rawlings@s...> wrote:
            > Tim,
            >
            > Hope you have not given up on me. I have been running here at work
            the last
            > several days and have not had time to respond like I wanted.
            >
            > The "White House" property is no longer owned by CMHL, but is
            owned by a
            > person who does reside on the current BOD. Since the Iron Brigade
            site is
            > now owned by the State (CMHL donated it to the State), I would
            opine that
            > the property is contiguous. I believe he joined the board after
            his purchase
            > of the property. The owners are required to open the house for
            tours one
            > weekend out of the year for walk throughs by the public per
            Maryland
            > Historic easements or requirements ( I can't think of the entity
            on the tip
            > of my tongue just now). Not that this is currently happening for
            all I know.
            > The guy that bought it is a little strange.
            >
            > I agree with your statement about Al having a conflict of interest
            sitting
            > on CMHL's board and brought that up when I rejoined the board. I
            was
            > promptly told by Bill Wilson I was a troublemaker and my opinion
            was of no
            > account as the rest of the board saw no conflict. As far
            as "crackpot
            > hobbyist" I take it you refer to George B. or Steve S.? If you
            meant George,
            > I don't know if I would go so far as calling him a crackpot, but
            he did
            > manage to damage his creditability, especially with the State, by
            having the
            > media tantrum he had. It did not help that Bill Wilson and his
            minions
            > helped to undermine George at the same time and eventually knifed
            him in the
            > back. The tea shop owner at the Lamar House is a good friend of
            Bill's and
            > he was very instrumental in overriding our opposition to it.
            Because of our
            > opposition to the tea shop, Bill managed to convene illegally a
            special
            > board meeting and removed George from the organization. Following
            that
            > meeting several of us were told we were next if continued to
            oppose Bill's
            > agenda as Executive Director. One of the items Bill pushed long
            and hard on
            > was to have the Executive Director's position to have a BOD vote.
            Currently
            > he and his wife Molly both sit on the Board.
            >
            > Now I was on the BOD when you say the CMHL said it was not
            interested in
            > Crampton's Gap. What I remember being discussed was the several
            groups that
            > were involved in Crampton's Gap/Gathland, including Paul
            Gilligan's new
            > group. We agreed we would only serve to muddy the waters by adding
            another
            > group to the mix and decided to stay out of any involvement with
            Crampton's
            > Gap/Gathland. We figured we had all we could do to just take care
            of Fox's
            > and Turner's Gaps and our addition to Crampton's Gap/Gathland
            would involve
            > too many cooks' hands in the soup. We had also gotten fed up with
            Paul's "I
            > want to be involved with you/I don't want to be involved with you"
            stances
            > on any wind direction that happen to be blowing any given day.
            There was
            > already group infrastructures for Crampton's
            Gap/Gathland/Burkettsville
            > where there was none at the other gaps. That is the way I remember
            it unless
            > there were some things said afterwards that I was not privy to. It
            was not
            > because we were uninterested in Crampton's Gap.
            >
            > My opinion of Greenbriar Lake being associated with the budget of
            the SMSB
            > is preposterous and should be its own entitiy. Unfortunately, the
            turf
            > politics from within the State Parks will not allow that
            separation and thus
            > lake tourism requiring picnic tables and such will take precedent
            over
            > historic and battlefield needs and the budget for SMSB will
            continue to
            > starve, unless I am off the mark.
            >
            > I don't know what the score is or what is needed any longer. I
            threw up my
            > hands in fustration with the turn of events at CMHL and kept to
            myself for
            > the last several years. But I don't like what I see happening on
            South
            > Mountain and have slowly begun to get back involved. But as of
            this writing,
            > I am not sure with whom or what group. I just know I cannot sit on
            the
            > sideline and tsk-tsk all that is wrong or incompetent that I see.
            I am
            > involved with George and a new group at this time but I am not
            even sure
            > what we are working at is doable or right. I am not even sure
            another group
            > is the answer. My feeling of "I have done my time in the trenches,
            let
            > someone else carry the burden awhile" on top of working on another
            book,
            > just does not leave enough time in the day or the week.
            >
            > On a side note, did Joe Hooker spend some time recuperating in
            Middletown
            > after Antietam? If he did, do you know where he stayed? I believe
            Hayes
            > stayed at the Rudy House (504 Main Street?).
            >
            > Good seeing you and Jan the other night in Boonsboro. The book you
            have
            > coming out on the Maryland Campaign, is that the 70 page book you
            are
            > talking about or is it a longer book?
            >
            > All the best,
            > Kevin
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